Saturday, September 29, 2007

Anti-Musharraf Riots In Islamabad

Pakistan's capitol was rocked by bloody riots less than a day after the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled in favor of President General Pervez Musharraf's eligibility to run for a second term.

More than 10,000 riot police and plainclothes officers were stationed around the court buildings and the nearby Electoral Commission offices, where the nomination papers for presidential candidates, including Musharraf, were being examined when a force of over 1,000 demonstrators attempted to storm the commission offices.

Baton wielding riot police charged the protesters, which included,apparently a number of lawyers.

When rocks were thrown, the police reportedly began throwing rocks of their own and securty forces fired tear gas shells directly into the crowd.

The police then charged the crowd and beat a number of the participants, while arresting hundreds. 45 people were hospitalized.

This came just two days after the Pakistani Supreme Court (led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the man Musharraf tried to have removed form the court) had ruled
that the government could not blockade streets leading into the capital, prevent protests or stop the flow of traffic past government buildings.

The violence comes just after a victory for Musharraf in the Supreme Court, which essentially accepted Musharraf's offer to remain as head of the army until after the election, and to relinquish the post of army chief if he was re-elected. It also comes after al-Qaeda posted a video essentially ending the de facto armistice with the Musharraf government and calling for his ouster.

The parliamentary election for president is October 6th. Musharraf has a clear majority there and will likely win,but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to continue to govern.

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